CLOSE CALL

 

By

 

Nikki Harrington

 

Inspector Mackenzie nearly triumphs - but not at the burglary game. And in doing so surprises both Raffles and Bunny.

An established relationship story.

Written: March 2012. Word count: 3,605.

 

 

Inspector Mackenzie has come close on a handful of occasions to catching Raffles and me, but never as close as he came on one particular day. And the crime for which he could easily have bowled us both out was not burglary.

 

Raffles and I had been involved in another illegal activity for some six months, ever since the night I returned to his rooms to beg for his help. He gave it; he saved me; and in one evening led me into duel crimes. Except I do not consider our love to be a crime, how can it be thus? Yet in the eyes of the law it is.

 

Six months and we still found it difficult to keep out hands and mouths off one another. Raffles blamed two years of frustration at school, when he had to keep his hands to himself. I laughed and reminded him that he rarely kept his hands to himself. Although I hasten to add his touches were not of an illicit nature, far from it; in that respect he did indeed keep his hands to himself - even when I dared to wish he had not done so.

 

Six months and barely a day went by when we did not see one another, did not touch, did not commit illegal acts. Six months and I loved him more than I ever thought I would, more than I ever dared to dream I would be allowed to love him. And that love was reciprocated, of that he made me quite aware. Six months and the day came when he gave me news I did not wish to hear, and from the tone of his voice and from the look on face it was news he did not wish to deliver.

 

"I cannot get out of it, Bunny," he said with a deep sigh. "It's been planned for months; before you and I met up again." His hand rested on my shoulder and he gazed at me. I could see he spoke the truth. He was due to leave London on the morrow to attend a house-party and several rounds of cricket matches which had been arranged by the England captain. "And," he said, now cupping my face between his hands, "it isn't the kind of place I can just turn up with you at my side."

 

That he dared to do that anyway, just accept an invitation and arrive with me, fully expecting the hostess to arrange a room for me and find a suitable young lady to join her table, still discomforted me a little - but never enough to refuse to accompany him. I always did object mildly, but he always shrugged my objections off, declaring that if the people who invited him insisted on his presence and expected him to take to the field, then they had to accept him on his terms and that meant my presence at his side.

 

I know many hosts and hostesses must have wondered quite what hold I had over Raffles, quite why A. J. Raffles should refuse to attend parties unless accompanied by his 'insignificant little friend' - certainly few troubled to remember my name. But it soon became known that if you wanted Raffles at your table or your party or to play cricket for you, then you had to accept that his friend would be in attendance as well. But this was different.

 

"It's all right, Raffles," I said, smiling as one of his hands began to stroke my cheek, leaning into the touch. His touch; suddenly his hand stroking my face wasn't enough, I wanted more and given I would not have it for five days, I wanted it now. He must have read my desire as the hand stroking my cheek moved behind my head, pulled me forward a little and his mouth met mine. His other hand was already under my coat, caressing my buttocks and pulling me nearer to him until I was pressed as closely as I could possibly get against his body.

 

 

It was some hours later when I sat on his bed watching him pack or rather watching him throw things carelessly into his bags. The fact he was packing so carelessly told me far more than any words could, how much he wished he didn't have to attend the house-party and thus fulfil his promise to the England captain.

 

In the end I could not sit and watch any longer thus, as I had done many times for him at school, I pushed him to one side, unpacked thing things he had thrown into his bags and repacked them for him. I let my fingers linger over underclothing, shirts, trousers, evening attire, waistcoats, ties and his cricket whites as I placed them carefully, reverently even, into his bags. His cricket bag I left to him.

 

Then I piled his bags into the corner of the room and once more pulled him down onto the bed; he could sleep on the train and I had nothing I had to do the following day other than see him off.

 

 

We shared one final drawn out kiss in the privacy of his railway carriage before he pushed me away, telling me I had to go before he did something that would ensure he never played for England nor for any other team again - not unless Wormwood Scrubs had a cricketing team, which he somehow doubted. The look in his startling blue eyes as he held me at arm's length assured me his words were not false. And as I looked into his eyes I knew that if I asked he would get off the train and return to the Albany with me and the already made plans, what the England captain would say and anything but me could all rot. I did not ask.

 

Instead, I picked my hat up from the floor, brushed it down, buttoned my overcoat and circled the carriage, ensuring I got nowhere near him before letting myself out into the corridor and down onto the platform. Then without waiting for the train to leave I hailed a hansom and returned to the Albany.

 

Yes, the Albany. It had been Raffles's idea; he said he rather liked the idea of being able to imagine me in his bed, in his bath, using his towels, sitting on his sofa, drinking his whisky, smoking his Sullivans, walking around his rooms, dressing and undressing by the light of his lamps. I had put up nothing more than a weak defence wondering merely what Parker would think - he clearly didn't consider the question one that warranted an answer, as he did not respond.

 

"Mr. Raffles get off all right, sir?" Parker said as I entered the Albany.

 

"Yes, Parker; indeed he did."

 

"Seems strange him going off without you, sir, unusual, I should say."

 

I glanced at Parker, staring hard, trying to read him. But I saw nothing in his face other than the innocence of the actual words. "Well, yes, it does a bit. But it had been arranged for months, long before we became acquainted. Well, reacquainted, I should say. We went to the same school."

 

Parker nodded and smiled. "Yes, sir. I know that."

 

"Oh, right."

 

"Still, it does seem strange, sir."

 

I shrugged. "Well I'm not a cricketer, so . . ."

 

"And you'll be staying in Mr. Raffles's room whilst he's away, sir?"

 

"Yes, yes, Parker, I will. I thought it was time to have my flat redecorated and with Raffles going away he offered -" I fell silent as I saw Raffles's face and heard him urging me not to elaborate. So with a smile and a nod, I left Parker and headed up to Raffles's rooms. Even though the day was not cold and it had been less than an hour since we'd left them, the rooms seemed chilled and as I walked across the room I felt sure I could hear my footsteps echo in the silence.

 

 

When I returned home from dining at the club with Foxton, Raffles's telephone was ringing. I hastened inside and grabbed it before it could halt. It was no other than Raffles himself. Every word he said to me he could have said anywhere in front of anyone, they were all for public consumption. But when he finally said 'goodnight' to me, I was so aroused I was forced to retire to his bedroom and indulge in something I had rarely indulged in during the years.

 

You may think me a very innocent and na´ve rabbit, but I had always regarded such a thing as far more illicit than the things I did with Raffles. But thanks to my Raffles I had learnt, during the past six months, to know my body far more intimately, far better than I had ever done before becoming reacquainted with him, and I knew I would not be able to rest until I allowed myself release. I have no doubt at all in my mind, my very own devilish villain had planned this; had chosen his words as he had done  knowing what effect they would have on me. And yet, I repeat he could have said them in front of a child and not one word would have shocked anyone.

 

FIVE DAYS LATER

 

Raffles had forbid me from meeting his train and I had not argued with him. Instead I paced around his rooms checking my watch every minute or so, just waiting for the moment the front door would open, he would call out my name and -

 

I heard the sound of his key in the lock and I was already in the hall as he opened his front door; seconds later I was pressed against the door, his mouth on mine, his body pressed against mine, his bags abandoned on the floor around us.

 

His mouth was hot and demanding, his tongue had found entry to my mouth and his desire was clear as he pressed his hardness against me. One of his hands was tangled in my hair; the other was clutching my buttocks, forcing me nearer and nearer to him. I was as aroused as he and my body cried out for the release at his hands which it had missed over the last few days.

 

Finally, he had to take his mouth from mine simply in order to breathe and his eyes were dark with the kind of passion I rarely saw unless in his bedroom or mine. Ignoring his bags, he dropped his overcoat and hat on top of them, grabbed my hand and pulled me into the sitting room.

 

The next moment I was on my back on the sofa with him kneeling on the floor bending over me; his mouth was once again on mine, one hand was again tangled in my hair, whilst the other was unbuttoning my trousers. "Raffles!" I gasped as fingers I had seen do things with a cricket ball no other slow bowler had ever done closed around my hardness. I thrust up into his touch, searching for the release I craved, but it wasn't to be.

 

Instead he took his mouth from mine, looked into my eyes and then bent to take me into his mouth. My hands went to his head, tangling in hair, trying to both pull him nearer and push him away. I felt the completion of my desire race up on me and tried to pull him away, but he stayed where he was and it was with his name on my lips that I released into his mouth.

 

Eye closed, breathing heavily, limbs weak, I just lay panting for several seconds until I forced myself to open my eyes and after blinking for several seconds I managed to focus on his face. He too was breathing hard, he had one hand to his mouth, the other was resting on my thigh. "Bunny," he managed as he put a slightly shaking finger on my lips and traced them. "My own dear, sweet Bunny."

 

I reached for him, intending to pull him onto the sofa and return the pleasure he'd just given me when the doorbell rang.

 

He froze. "I told Parker I was at home to no one; for him to allow someone to come up can only mean one thing." He looked at me and I saw a glimpse of fear race across the handsome face for the first time in our acquaintance. He didn't need to speak the name of the person of whom we both were thinking.

 

With an elegance I always wished I'd had, he stood up and glanced around the room as the doorbell rang for a second time. Hands fumbling I managed to get myself put away and began to button up my trousers. "Coat," I said to him as he headed for the door.

 

"What?" he turned.

 

"Do you coat up." And I let my gaze flicker just below his waist. The sound of the bell had not in anyway diminished his obvious desire. He hastened to fasten the buttons on his coat then headed, this time not for the door, but for the whisky decanter.

 

By now I was sitting up and was trying to smooth my hair down. I had buttoned my own coat up as almost too late I had realised that not quite all of my release had gone into Raffles's mouth. "Raffles?" I asked, as he poured whisky into two glasses and took a swallow from one of them. "Don't you think it's a little early?"

 

"Better the scent of whisky," he said, taking a second swallow, before to my surprise splashing a few drops onto the rug before he poured more whisky into his glass. He handed a glass to me, put the other on the mantelpiece, then glanced at me, down at himself and around the room once more before heading to the front door.

 

"Inspector Mackenzie," I heard him cry in the tone he reserved for the man. I sat bolt upright on the sofa and emptied the glass he had given me in one swallow. "What a pleasant surprise, I haven't seen you for oh, at least a week. Do come in and join Mr. Manders and me in a drink. Oh, don't mind those bags, I just returned from a house party and haven't had time to unpack. Bunny," he called throwing open the door and ushering Mackenzie inside. "Look who has decided to call upon us."

 

"Inspector," I said, forcing myself to remain seated.

 

"Mr. Manders. I thought I'd find you here."

 

"Oh, did you, Inspector?" Raffles asked innocently, eyes wide as he poured a drink into a third glass which he held out to Mackenzie.

 

I waited for Mackenzie to decline as he always had done in the past. But to my surprise, he took the glass. "Aye, thank you, Mr. Raffles, I will have a drink with you, even though it is a wee bit early in the day."

 

"Is it?" Raffles asked once again in his innocent tone. "Bunny, the Inspector thinks it's too early in the day. What do you say?"

 

As both his eyes and Mackenzie's came to rest on me, all I could do was smile faintly and hold up my empty glass. "Ah," Raffles cried turning to Mackenzie, "clearly Mr. Manders here disagrees with you. Here, Bunny, let me give you a refill." Weakly I held out my glass, I was never more grateful for his touch as I was in the moment he put his hand on mine and squeezed it as he poured me some more whisky, the touch hidden by his body.

 

"Your good health, Inspector," he said, once we all had a glass in our hands. "Do sit down."

 

"No, Mr. Raffles, thank you. I'm quite happy to stand." At which point I knew I could not remain seated. So trying not to hold onto my coat too obviously I joined Raffles and Mackenzie on my feet and raised my glass.

 

Suddenly I saw Mackenzie's nostrils began to twitch and I looked at Raffles in horror. But my Raffles is as quick thinking as he handsome. "My dear Bunny, whisky this fine is meant for drinking not for tossing onto the rug. Do you not agree, Inspector?"

 

Mackenzie whose gaze had come to rest on me glanced away and looked at Raffles. I believe I detected a hint of reluctant admiration in his voice when he replied. "Aye, Mr. Raffles, it is remarkably fine whisky."

 

"Scotch." I said brightly, wishing I hadn't spoken as Mackenzie once again turned his attention back to me.

 

"Aye, Mr. Manders," he said after staring in silence at me for several long seconds. "I know that."

 

"So, Inspector," Raffles said brightly, once again forcing Mackenzie's attention away from me onto him. "What brings you to my rooms? Has there been another burglary in town of which you wish to accuse me? Because I have to tell you that I have only just this minute returned from the country, is that not so, Bunny?"

 

I nodded. "Yes. Yes, Raffles, you have," I said brightly. Too brightly I think, as Mackenzie's gaze came back to me.

 

"And did not accompany Mr. Raffles, this time, Mr. Manders?" I really do not believe I was imagining it, but maybe it was my guilty conscious, but I feel sure there was an extra emphasis on 'this time'.

 

"Er, no, not this time, Inspector. We don't -" I stopped abruptly as Raffles stared at me.

 

Mackenzie looked at me for a moment longer, before looking back at Raffles. The three of us stood in silence until Mackenzie drained his glass.

 

"Another glass, Inspector?" Raffles said, his hand already on the decanter.

 

"No, thank you, Mr. Raffles; as I said it is wee bit early for me."

 

"Yes, yes, I remember now you did. In that case . . ."

 

Mackenzie looked at me again before turning his full attention to Raffles. "Mr. Raffles."

 

"Inspector Mackenzie."

 

"You know it is my life's aim to arrest you and Mr. Manders here for burglary, do you not?"

 

Raffles nodded. "Yes, yes, Inspector. I do indeed know that. We," he waved his hand at me, "know that. Do we not, Bunny?" I could only nod. "And I hate to disappoint you, Inspector, but I fear -"

 

"As I was saying, Mr. Raffles, I long for the day when I will have that opportunity." He paused and stared hard at Raffles before speaking again. "However, I have no desire to arrest you for anything else. Do you understand me, Mr. Raffles?"

 

I was watching Raffles intently now and although I doubt no one else would have noticed the subtle change in his face, I did. When he replied, his tone was also subtly different, gone was the overly bright, slightly sarcastic, bordering on contemptuous tone he usually used when talking to Mackenzie. Instead he said his tone serious, "Yes, Inspector, I believe I do. Bunny?" he looked at me. "Do we understand the Inspector?" The look in his eyes told me to agree.

 

I nodded. "Yes, Raffles, I'm certain we do."

 

Mackenzie looked from Raffles to me and back again. "Aye," was all he said, before turning around. "I'll be off now, Mr. Raffles. Good day to you. Good day to you, Mr. Manders."

 

"Good day, Inspector," I managed, sinking back onto the sofa as Raffles followed Mackenzie from the room. I heard him say goodbye, heard the front door open and then close again. It was only then that I sagged back against the sofa and groaned.

 

Raffles came back into the sitting room, closed the door behind him and leant against it. "Well, Bunny, what do you think of that?"

 

"He knows." I groaned again.

 

"Yes, of course he knows, Bunny, just as he knows about the other thing. But can he prove either?"

 

"He very nearly did," I said, standing up.

 

Raffles stared at me for a long time. "Well," he said finally unbuttoning his coat. I wasn't that surprised to see his arousal was still obvious. My Raffles always had enjoyed taking chances. "What shall we do now?" He moved away from the door and began to walk towards me.

 

I swallowed hard as he got near to me and even though it is normally he who takes the lead, this time I reached for him, pulled him nearer to me, kissed him hard on the lips, before tripping him so that he was sprawled on the sofa beneath me. Kneeling over him I kissed him again as my hands found their way to just below his waist and my fingers, still not as practised as his, but only fumbling a little, undid his buttons, slid my hand inside his trousers and drawers and pulled him out.

 

He gasped as I moved my hand over him. Bending my head I found his mouth and plundered it for a moment or two before slipping to the floor and replacing my hand with my mouth. His hands tangled in my hair and even when a short time later I felt him trying to pull me away, I stayed where I was, even when he said my name in his commanding voice, I stayed where I was.

 

Finally he stopped struggling, stopped fighting me and himself and gave himself up to what those who didn't know any better called a sin. "Bunny!" he cried. "My Bunny, my very own Bunny. Oh, Bunny."

 


 

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